Restricted, with an Alcohol Education Committee (October 2014)*
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No bank branches. ATMs at Northern Store, Co-Op and airport. Interac and credit cards accepted at most retail locations. Internet banking is recommended.
Telephone and Internet (limited bandwidth) service is available. Limited cell phone service is available, from some service providers only.
The Hamlet of Kugluktuk was formerly known as Coppermine, the name of the river that flows into Coronation Gulf at this location. The English name can be traced back to an expedition explorer Samuel Hearne made in 1771 during which he searched for copper and other economic opportunities while working for the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Descended from the Thule Inuit who occupied the region, local Inuit were referred to as “Copper Eskimos” for several years because many of their tools were made from copper found in deposits along the river. John Franklin also visited the area on one of his overland journeys (1819-1822) down the Coppermine River to map the coast and find the Northwest Passage. John Richardson and George Back accompanied Franklin on this expedition and were noted for conducting their own expeditions.
Located in the westernmost part of Nunavut at the mouth of the Coppermine River, the area was jointly occupied by both the Inuit and the Dene, leading to many feuds and skirmishes between the two peoples. Bloody Falls, located near the community, was the site of a major altercation between Inuit and Dene with several recorded deaths. In 1996, a healing ceremony was conducted to resolve historic differences and grievances between the two cultures.
In more recent times, the Kugluktuk area has been the base of many expeditions and activities, including acting as a base for the ethnographic portion of the Canadian Arctic Expedition that Diamond Jenness embarked upon between 1913 and 1916. The HBC established a trading post In 1927, an Anglican mission followed in 1928, and the RCMP in 1932. A weather station and other federal facilities were established in the 1940s. Mining and oil and gas exploration were carried out in the area in the 1970s, providing training and employment opportunities. The Hamlet changed its name to Kugluktuk in 1996, referring to the nearby falls on the river (kugluk).
The Government of Nunavut (GN) Employee Orientation website offers an excellent collection of material on the general history of Nunavut, together with an overview of Inuit culture and history and an explanation of how Inuit cultural principles are being incorporated into government operations and services. We recommend exploring this site once it is available again after their restructuring, for now you can try the general GN site for information.
The Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre and Museum provides historical and cultural information about Kugluktuk, and displays local arts and handicrafts. The Kitikmeot Heritage Society and the Nunavut Literacy Council are working to revitalize the use of Inuinnaqtun in daily life in the Kitikmeot region through traditional skills programs, Inuinnaqtun publications and other initiatives. The Anglican Church has had a presence in Kugluktuk since the 1920s. St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and a Catholic Mission, Christ the King, are the current places of worship in the community.
Kugluktuk lies in the area where the form of Inuit language used is Inuinnaqtun, a western dialect that uses Roman orthography instead of Inuktitut syllabics. However, English is the first language at home for 89% of the people in Kugluktuk, even if their mother tongue is another language. Only 10% say they use Inuinnaqtun regularly in the home, either as a first or second language, and 5% claim Inuinnaqtun as their mother tongue. Kugluktuk also has an unusually high proportion, for Nunavut, of people who say their mother tongue is a language other than English, French, or an Inuit language, at 19%. Many homes are multilingual. You can expect most public events and meetings to be conducted in English and Inuinnaqtun. Inuktitut dialects vary widely across Nunavut, so if you have been speaking Inuktitut in another community, be prepared to learn dialectal differences and to have local residents correct your usage. The Inuit language (Inuktitut and Inuinnaqtun), English and French are all official languages of Nunavut, so you have the right to request government services in the official language of your choice.
By Canadian standards, Kugluktuk is a fairly young community, but its median age of 24.3 years is significantly higher than that found in many other Nunavut communities. The 2011 census counted around 195 pre-school and 340 school-age children, so 37% of the population is under 18, and 5% of the population is over 65.
Kugluktuk has had a long history of economic development. The recent growth of mines in the area is simply a continuation of economic exploration dating back to Hearne. In addition to mineral and oil and gas exploration, many residents have travelled to other locations in the Northwest Territories to participate in projects in Hay River (railway construction), Yellowknife (mining and transportation) and in the Beaufort Sea (oil and gas). The economic benefits of the mining sector tend to fluctuate with the current state of the industry, but the area has great resource potential.
Kugluktuk is also one of the communities benefiting from the Government of Nunavut’s decentralization program. A number of government positions have been located in Kugluktuk, in offices such as the translation bureau, sport and recreation, and Community and Government Services. It is also home to Kitikmeot School Operations, which oversees the region’s schools. Tourism is also important to the local economy, and focuses on a number of nearby historical sites. The Nunavut territorial park of Kugluk/Bloody Falls lies 15 km outside of the Hamlet, centering on the falls (kugluk) from which the Hamlet gets its current name. Nunavut Parks also lists the Coppermine River as a heritage site, and the river was nominated in 2002 to form part of the Canadian Heritage River System. The Kugluktuk Heritage Visitor Centre and Museum provides a centre for many tourism-related services and activities, such as maps, trail routes and outfitter contacts. In addition to the wage economy provided by government, industry, and local services provision, many residents of Kugluktuk also pursue traditional subsistence hunting and fishing activities.
As in many Nunavut communities, there are no bank branches in Kugluktuk, and cash supplies can often become very limited. ATMs are available at the Northern Store, the Co-op and the airport, with limited cash supply. Interac and credit card services are available at most retail stores. It is highly recommended that newcomers establish Internet banking services and online methods of bill payment, particularly since postal service can often be delayed when the weather delays transportation.
Because the tundra of the Coppermine River area is close to the tree line, some boreal forest wildlife can be seen in the area, including barrenland grizzly bears, wolverines and moose, as well as tundra wildlife, such as musk oxen, caribou, foxes, wolves and Arctic hares. The Arctic ground squirrel, or hikhik as it is known locally, is a common sight. A variety of raptors, such as peregrine falcons, rough-legged hawks and bald eagles, also frequent the area. People fish the area for Arctic char and whitefish. Ringed seals are abundant in Coronation Gulf.
Kugluktuk can experience wide variations in temperature. Winters are cold, with a daily average between -25ᵒC and -27ᵒC from December through March, and around 190 days a year have a wind chill of under -20ᵒC. In the summertime, however, Kugluktuk is Nunavut’s hot spot: between June and August temperatures can be in the teens, and have been known on occasion to exceed 20ᵒC, even reaching 34ᵒC in a couple of instances. Average precipitation in a year is 69.6 mm of rain and 82.1 cm of snow. It is also a breezy place, with an average wind speed of 16.1 km/h throughout the year. Current weather conditions and forecasts for Kugluktuk are posted on the Environment Canada website.
People’s tolerance for cold varies with experience, but warm winter clothing is required for several months of every year. If you are moving to Nunavut, make sure you bring essential winter gear. Although you can sometimes purchase hand-made clothing, such as parkas and mitts, from local seamstresses, their services are not always available, and commercial winter clothing and footwear may be in low supply in the local stores. Check- in with your principal or colleagues for their advice on practical winter gear to purchase and bring with you.
At 67.49 degrees latitude, Kugluktuk is in the land of polar night and midnight sun. The amount of daylight in the winter diminishes to nothing by early December and it remains dark until the return of brief sunrise in early January. The amount of daylight increases to 24 hours a day by the third week of May, and daylight is continuous for the next three months until the third week of July.
According to the 2011 census, Kugluktuk has 400 private dwellings, including 220 single detached houses, 35 semi-detached houses, 100 row houses, and 35 apartment buildings under five storeys. Most housing is either employer-provided rental housing, or public housing. As housing in Nunavut is in short supply, ask your employer about the housing provisions of your employment and its cost. There is a possibility that you may be required to share housing with another colleague. You should also ask about the appropriate housing insurance to acquire. If you have pets, the need for pet-friendly accommodation should be clearly indicated in any housing applications or documentation. You should also be aware that there is no veterinary service in Kugluktuk.
Water and sewage services, provided by the Hamlet, are supplied by trucked service. This means you will have a water tank and a sewage tank in the home, which are filled up and pumped out respectively on a regular schedule. Contact the Hamlet for details. People on trucked service do need to be conscious of their level of water consumption, as supplementary fees may be charged if you require a special fill-up or pump-out. The Hamlet also provides a garbage pick-up service. Most homes are heated with oil furnaces and the Co-op is the local heating fuel provider. Electrical power is supplied by Qulliq Energy’s local power plant. All telecommunications arrive in Nunavut via satellite. Telephone service is available only through NorthwesTel. Limited cellphone service is available, from some service providers only. If you are a cellphone user, check to see if your current provider includes Nunavut in its coverage. The Northern Store in Kugluktuk sells cell phones and can set up service. Internet service is available from the local service providers (Qiniq, NorthwesTel satellite), with limited bandwidth capacity, or direct-to-home satellite (Xplornet), which requires special arrangements for satellite dish installation. Cable TV is provided by the Co-op and direct-to-home satellite TV by Bell Canada TV.
Local shopping and perishables are available from Kugluktuk Co-op, the Northern Store, and Northern Convenience store. Basic fresh staples such as milk, bread, and some fresh produce, along with canned and dry goods, are normally stocked throughout the year, although shortages can occur if supply planes are delayed by the weather. Store managers can sometimes order special items if they are requested. “Country food” (wildlife hunted or fished for food) such as caribou, fish or seal is not usually sold in these stores, but if you are interested you can sample these delicious and nutritious foods at community feasts and may occasionally be able to obtain them from local hunters. Local arts and crafts, clothing and jewellery can be purchased at Qilaut Originals. See the contact list for phone numbers.
Food and supplies in Nunavut are generally expensive because of the added cost of shipping items north, despite the cost-of-living allowances paid by many employers, such as the Government of Nunavut’s Northern Allowance. Perishable items arrive by air freight, sea shipping lanes are open for only a brief period every year, and there are no highway links. Weather conditions also affect the arrival of planes, occasionally causing temporary shortages. If you have special dietary requirements (e.g. gluten-free, allergy-related, organic), you may wish to look into stocking up on particular supplies or identify sources that will ship north. You can find information about obtaining the food subsidies available for direct or personal orders under the Government of Canada’s Nutrition North program on its website). In addition, many businesses will ship items in unsubsidized food mail. Free shipping from Internet-based suppliers often becomes an important consideration. Local residents can suggest favourite methods and suppliers for food and supplies not available in the community, including “country food” from other Nunavut communities.
Bulk supplies, large or heavy items (e.g., vehicles, furniture) and building supplies are usually brought in by annual sealift, more commonly known as “the barge” in the Kitikmeot region. The shipping season is short and orders must be placed with shipping marshalling deadlines in mind. Companies that provide this service in Kugluktuk are Nunavut Eastern Arctic Shipping, Nunavut Sealink and Supply (NSSI) and Northern Transportation Company Limited. See the contact list for phone numbers and websites.
Kugluktuk is served by a Health Centre (also referred to as a Nursing Station) staffed by nurse practitioners. Basic medical care is provided, such as regular checkups, treatment of minor illnesses, and emergency first response. The number of nurses at the Health Centre reflects the size of the community. Kugluktuk has regular visits from community physicians in addition to specialist visits and dentist visits. Regional services are provided through the Health Centre in Cambridge Bay, with support from hospitals in Yellowknife and Edmonton. Those requiring specialist treatment are frequently sent to Cambridge Bay or “south,” depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint.
New residents of Nunavut are not immediately covered by Nunavut health care. You must be a resident of Nunavut for three months, with a minimum one-year work contract, before you are eligible. You can download and complete the online Nunavut health card application, and mail the application, along with the required documentation, to the Department of Health after your three-month residency. Applications are also available at the Health Centre. It is very important that you have a Nunavut health card, because although your previous provincial or territorial health card may still cover your health expenses, it may not cover expenses such as medevacs (emergency chartered plane out of your community). If you intend to have family members or friends that are not residents of Nunavut visiting you, it is highly advised that they purchase medical insurance for the duration of their visit to cover expenses not typically covered by their province and territory. Under your employer’s health care benefits package you may also receive benefits for expenses, such as prescription drugs, dental services and eyeglasses. Check with your assigned Benefits Officer for details. A pharmacy is located in Cambridge Bay. The Health Centre may be able to provide some emergency prescriptions, but the supplies on hand are limited. If you have a medical condition requiring ongoing prescriptions, you should make arrangements with a pharmacy to have your prescriptions sent to you. Be prepared to allow plenty of time for your order to arrive because the delivery method and weather conditions will affect the time it takes to reach you.
Kugluktuk has a dental clinic, which may be staffed by a dental therapist. A dentist visits Kugluktuk on a rotational schedule. Demand to see the dentist is usually very high. An optical team also visits on a rotational schedule, checking eyes and dispensing eyeglasses. Check with the Health Centre for the availability of these services.
You can check online for more information about Nunavut’s health system.
Kugluktuk is accessible by air year-round, with most routes passing through Yellowknife, NT, and Cambridge Bay, NU. Travelers from outside the Kitikmeot region must fly from Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet or southern Canada to Yellowknife, then fly north. Canadian North and First Air offer flights to Kugluktuk. For current flight scheduling information, see the contact list for airline websites and phone numbers. Because the airline market in Nunavut is small and specialized, costs are very high. Even if your initial relocation costs are covered by your employer, you should check prices before making personal travel plans.
Within town, there is a taxi service, Triple A Taxi. Please see the contacts list at the end of this document for details. Most people get around by ATV or snowmobile, although an increasing number have private vehicles, which are brought in by annual sealift. However, garage services for private vehicles are limited.
Public skating, hockey and curling are available at the community arena, which the Hamlet runs. Kugluktuk also has a public library, located in the high school. Contact the library for current hours. The Kugluktuk Golf Club has also created an 18-hole golf course along the shores of Coronation Gulf. Outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, hunting and fishing, are all popular. Hunting and fishing regulations differ for residents who are beneficiaries under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. Contact the local GN Wildlife Management Office for any necessary licenses or wildlife tags. In the summer, kayakers, canoeists and river rafters also enjoy paddling the Coppermine River.
In April, the community holds the Nattiq Frolics, a week-long spring celebration with traditional Inuit games, dancing, feasting, seal hunting contests and snowmobile races.
Under the Nunavut Liquor Act and Regulations, Kugluktuk is a Restricted community, with an Alcohol Education Committee (AEC). This means the AEC determines how alcohol is controlled and consumed in the community. The AEC is a community-based group created by regulation under the Liquor Act. The members are elected at the same time Hamlet councillors are elected. The Committee’s mandate is to educate its community on how to prevent alcohol abuse. In general, the AEC controls and approves how much alcohol an individual can bring into the community. Contact the Hamlet office for current information. The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Finance is responsible for overseeing alcohol control and distribution in Nunavut, and you can consult its website for more information about the system.